No matter how you look at it, 2009 has been
But since he made the jump to Hendrick Motorsports of last season, he's hardly been any better. In fact, he hasn't been better at all. Everything is different for Junior now: new cars, new equipment, an abundance of resources and money, a team that is second to none. He even has a new crew chief. And here's what he has to show for it after 71 races: one win, 12 top-five finishes and 21 top-10s. Such totals would represent a bad
And through it all, nobody has been more up front about Junior's decline than the man himself. He's taken the jibes from
His candid approach is nice, because it's abundantly clear at this point that he
And since there's no doubt that the talent is there -- he won two straight titles in the Busch series in 1998 and 1999 -- we have to assume that part of this is in his head, that he is perhaps struggling with something that, in its own way, seems to be as debilitating as anything we've seen in other sports.
Can he ever win another race? Of course. Put the man on a track like Daytona or Talladega, places where he's always run well, and he's as good a bet as any. Can he ever compete for a championship again? As the taillights fade on the 2009 season, that's a question that will be left hanging in the air.
No, it's not Cup racing, but